CONCORD — More than half of U.S. states and all of those in New England require people to wear masks in public, except New Hampshire, and Gov. Chris Sununu said he doesn’t plan to create such a requirement even as Motorcycle Week and a NASCAR race approaches.
Answering a question from The Laconia Daily Sun, Sununu said at an afternoon news conference that he recommends that people wear masks and said he has observed that people are doing so voluntarily.
He said many businesses are also requiring it and he doesn’t see a need for a state requirement at this time.
“We could go down that road if we wanted to, but people wearing masks have skyrocketed,” he said. “There are very few people without a mask on hand. It’s up to individuals to wear it in those situations.
“A mandatory mask order is not an end all, be all. There’s very little way to enforce such an order. At the end of the day it’s up to the people.
“It’s hard to go out and not see a vast number of people wearing masks. I feel like every time I’m putting a mask on, it’s important. It’s not to protect you as much as it is to protect everybody around you.”
The New Hampshire Science and Public Health Task Force, a group of scientists, physicians and health care professionals, supports a mandatory mask requirement.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people wear cloth face coverings in public and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
Sununu also said that when a coronavirus vaccine is made available he wouldn’t seek to immediately require it for schoolchildren. Instead, he would wait to see if legislation were passed to add to the list of required student inoculations, and would support it at that time.
His comments came as thousands of people, many from out of state, make plans to come to a NASCAR Cup Series race in Loudon on Aug. 2 and Motorcycle Week in Laconia on Aug. 22-30.
There will be reduced attendance at the race to promote social distancing. For Motorcycle Week, the typical vendor booths will be absent.
At the news conference, state Epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan announced 59 new COVID-19 cases.
Sununu said case numbers have been up and down recently, but has been averaging about 30 per day, there hasn’t been an increase in the important metric of how many tests are positive for the disease and there remains a strong capacity for testing and hospital services.
He also said he had authorized the allocation of $7 million in CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund to help veterans. The money will go to a fund intended to assist homeless veterans and aid veterans service programs that provide direct traditional services, such as financial assistance, and provide mental health support.
Sununu also said he was putting $1.5 million of an education relief fund toward 800 new scholarships for young people.
“Importantly of those that currently receive support from New Hampshire’s scholarship organizations, 22% of them are of racial and ethnic minority populations, which is more than double our statewide demographic,” he said.